Science of Happiness: Happy Research

Science of Happiness : happy Research
Science of Happiness : happy Research
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Did you know that you can increase your happiness by up to 40%? Follow along as Kim Strobel breaks down the Happiness Pie.

Hello everyone! I’m Kim Strobel. I’m a former school teacher, turned curriculum director, turned happiness coach, and motivational speaker. Now I spend a lot of my time traveling across the country working with schools on The Science of Happiness and how do we begin to feel really good in our lives a lot of the time. 

So, I want to share with you the happiness research, because it blows people’s minds away. What we know is that every human being has what’s called a set baseline happiness level. So maybe my set baseline happiness level is here [gestures with hand], and somebody else is here [gestures with hand]. And what this means is that something good happens in our life like I don’t know, maybe we leave here [gestures with hand] and we go shopping for the day and we get a little happiness boost; our happiness level goes up for a period of time. It might go up for two hours, 20 minutes, two days, but what we know is that it always returns to baseline.

Something good happens in your life. You get a little boost in happiness, [then] it goes back to baseline. Takes a little bit of time depending on the event, but it always goes back to baseline. 

Now, what’s so interesting about this research that I’ve studied for 20 years, is that the same holds true for when we as human beings endure really hard things. We actually know from the science that human beings can endure loss and illness, and trauma, and injustices. That we can endure hard things, but the research shows over and over again that most of us, we return to our baseline after a period of time. 

Now if you’re like me, you fight a little bit with the research. I’m like, “I don’t know, I just think that if certain things happen to me I may never regain my happiness.” But then I think about these people that I know in my own life who have endured the unimaginable. They’ve endured great tragedy or great loss. And while we carry those griefs with us, we carry the hard things of life with us, those people also seem to be able to move forward with their life.

So the research shows over and over again that we will come back to our baseline. I always think of Victor Frankle. He wrote this phenomenal book called Man’s Search For Meaning.

Victor was a Jew and he was sent to, I believe, five concentration camps with his wife and his mother and father and he lost all of them. They all perished. And he endured terrible mental, physical, and emotional atrocities. 

He talks about how at the end of the day there were two things that they could never take from him. He said they could never take away my thoughts, what I chose to think, and they could never take away my hope. And Victor Frankle went on to live this joy filled, happy filled, meaning filled life. And I’m betting that you know somebody else like that.

That supports the happiness research. So the bottom line is we have these baseline happiness levels and they go up and down. But they almost always come back to baseline. So then people say, “Well Kim, why is my happiness level here and somebody else’s is here?” 

Where does happiness come from?

Well, what we know from the research is- are you ready for this- 50% of your long-term happiness is genetic! It comes from your mom or your dad or a mixture of both. I was standing in a crowd of 6,000 people last week and I was doing The Science of Happiness keynote. I was telling this research and I had to laugh. Because literally I felt like 80% of them when I said 50% is genetic, 80% of them hung their head and said “I’m so screwed”.

Here’s the deal. I always say that I was born to the most loving, nurturing caring mother. She is a phenomenal woman but her brain is wired towards negativity. She just can’t help it. It’s like things just appear for her to worry about or think about. She came over to my house not too long ago, and she walked in. She was like, “Sweetheart, your floors really look like they need redone. They look really dull.” And then she walked in my bathroom over here and she came out and she said “Why is this shower curtain hanging so high off the floor?” I said “Well we have a hole in the wall and so we’re just trying to cover that up.” Then when she was walking out of my home and into my garage she got to the dining room and she turned around and came back.

She said “Sweetheart, it looks like these birds have been glued on to these lamps.” I’m like “They were. I bought them at TJ Maxx for 30% off because the birds were broken and I glued them back on mama.” 

You know, it’s like God love her, but her her brain is just kind of wired to pick that up, right, or my dad is just more happy go-lucky. Things just kind of roll off his back. So there is a genetic tendency. And so for some of you who are watching this, like oh this makes perfect sense now. But don’t lose hope.

Now here’s where the happiness research gets even more interesting. We actually know that only about 10% of long-term happiness comes from your external circumstances. Only 10%! Well what’s an external circumstance? How did you grow up? What kind of family life did you have? What kind of social economic status did you have? As an adult are you married, single, divorced, or widowed? What kind of home do you live in? What kind of car do you drive? What kind of money do you make?

You know all of these things are external circumstances and the happiness research has done the extensive work, and said that only about 10% of our long-term happiness comes from our external circumstances.

Now if you’re like Kim Strobel, you let some external circumstances, some situations, some experiences, and even some people, steal way more than 10% of the pie for way too long. Now I always tell people look there are things that happen to us and it is obviously going to steal more than 10% of the pie, but the problem is that it steals more than 10% for way too long.

Like there comes a time where you have to say “I’m not going to stay in the gutter anymore.” I’m not going to let this person continue to steal my happiness and my joy. I’m not going to play victim anymore. And in fact, I’m going to get myself out of the gutter. I’m going to take 100% responsibility for my life because that’s where my power lies. And I’m going to get myself out of the gutter and from victim mode and into warrior mode. I’m coming out of victim mode and getting over here to victory because that’s where my power lies. 

And so, I think it’s fascinating because, I think about how many times do we let something – our job right – steal way more than 10% of the pie. And that’s on us. We’ve got to figure out, to have a set of tools, a set of happiness habits, that help us get out of the gutter quicker.

Now, the part that fires me up the most, the part that I have studied for the last 20 years, and actually been on fire with it, is that if 50% of our long-term happiness is genetic, and 10% is our external circumstances, that leaves 40% of the pie left. And what I know is that almost every single human being, every single human being, has the ability to increase their happiness levels by up to 40%.

Can you imagine increasing your happiness levels by up to 40%? Feeling that good in your career, in your job, in your home life, in yourself. And that has to do with these three things.

(1) It has to do with your thoughts. What are the thoughts that you’re thinking that are on rewind day in and day out? What are your thoughts?

(2) What are your actions? What are the actions that you’re taking? The daily habits?

(3) What are your behaviors

When we can teach people how to zoom in on their actions, thoughts, and behaviors, that’s when we increase their happiness levels. And when we increase their happiness levels, they show up as happier, more productive, more engaged, more alive human beings in the workplace. They show up as better moms and dads and partners, and they feel better they feel better in all areas of their life.

But we have not been trained to put our happiness at the forefront. We have not been trained that it’s okay to put your happiness at the beginning of the equation so that you can get the results.

And that’s what I work on with schools and businesses and organizations. Because we know that when we can teach you to rewire your brain, when we can teach you simple happiness habits to incorporate into your life, it completely changes your life.

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